Immersed in a dialog with college-age kids who hope to become PR pros has taught Deirdre Breakenridge not to generalize about the work ethic and social traits of millennials.

It’s also earned the author and adjunct New York University professor status as an expert on how of PR services suppliers should interact with the new generation of prospects and customers.

“Sooner or later, students … graduate. They go out into the world,” says Breakenridge, who is CEO of Pure Performance Communications. “If they trust you, they may buy services from you.”

Along with co-founder Valerie Simon, Breakenridge used Twitter in 2009 to build an online community of thousands of young people aspiring to work in PR, social media or a related field, along with those who have already built a career in the profession. Dubbed #PRStudChat – short for PR Student Chat -- the community’s purpose is to foster “a dynamic conversation about the Public Relations Industry and to provide opportunities for learning, networking and mentoring relationships.”

Breakenridge is quick to dismiss critics of millennials, calling them eager learners with a strong work ethic.

“These are folks that care,” she said, adding that generalizations exist about every generation, including her own Gen X peers.

“If we don’t accept spammy messages, well certainly millennials are not going to, either,” cautioned Breakenridge, who recommended that brands seeking to strengthen ties with millennials join in the #PRStudChat dialog and produce relevant content like e-books and infographics.

A prolific business book author, Breckenridge teamed with Brian Solis in 2009 to publish Putting the Public Back in Public Relations: How Social Media Is Reinventing the Aging Business of PR. She was sole author of the 2008 title, PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences, and, in 2012, wrote, Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional.

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